Book Review: ‘Just One Bite’ Is The Next Thrilling Timothy Blake Novel And Interview With Author Jack Heath

Just One Bite is the follow up to author Jack Heath’s Hangman novel. It again features one of the best characters you may read all year in Timothy Blake. A man that you really shouldn’t like but do and in my case also rooted for. He grew up in the foster care system. Lived on the streets, is in his mid-thirties, is smart as whip, is still a virgin and the food he likes to eat is very different from what most people like to eat.

He use to be a consultant for the FBI. Now he works for Charlie Warner, a powerful woman who you don’t want to cross. When she has people eliminated he takes care of the bodies, usually to his freezer. When a whole bunch of men go missing, Blake is called by his friend and FBI agent Reese Thistle to help with the case. Blake grew up with her and has known her most of his life. He’s also been in love with her forever.

The only problem Blake has is working with the FBI and working with Warner is not good. She’s been on their radar and he’s told not to work with them. What he already knows about both cases could overlap and he can’t give up anything on Warner or he’s a dead man. The more the investigate it leads them to the dark web and people that have a fetish for larger woman. It also brings Blake and Reese closer together and a change in their relationship until she uncovers his secret, one that he tries to deflect to it being the killer.

Soon Blake finds his live in danger, a traitor and a shoot-out that could end his life. Will he survive it and what will happen with Reese?

The story is great with lots of twists and turns, some LOL moments, a great character in Blake and a climatic ending. You just feel for Blake and hope that things work out for him in the end.

You can pick up Just One Bite in stores on Tuesday, June 4th from Hanover Press (Harper Collins).

Below is an e-mail interview I did with author Jack Heath.

1. Congrats on your second book with the character of Timothy Blake. I didn’t get to read the first one and hopefully I can. The character is one you should not like at all (no spoilers have to read the book). But I found myself really liking him and rooting for him. He has a big heart but has put himself in difficult positions. Have you found that people root for the character?

I think a few readers find Blake repulsive, and some embrace him wholeheartedly. But most are on the fence—they start out horrified and become sympathetic over the course of the story, or they like him but they’re uncomfortable about liking him. I wanted readers to be frightened of Blake but also for him, and to ask themselves if it’s possible for good actions to counteract bad ones, and whether the intentions make a difference.

2. What was your thought process on creating him in Hangman?

First I came up with a list of terrible things I could make Blake do. Then I thought about all the tricks I had learned to make a character sympathetic—give him skills, a harsh backstory, a selfless act to redeem him, make him feel guilty, stack the odds against him and make sure he doesn’t get away with his sins, or at least not entirely. I definitely didn’t want him to be a psychopath, like Dexter or Hannibal. He had to feel everything. A tormented figure, crushed by the weight of his own crimes.

3. How many books do you envision in the series with Timothy?

Timothy is a liberating character and fun to write about, so I’d love to do five or six more books with him. But long series arcs tempt fate too much, and I’ve learned to never hold anything back. I write each book like it’s my last, because it could well be. I just submitted a pitch for a sequel to Just One Bite, and I’m hoping the publisher goes for it. But if not, I can accept that and move on. I’m proud of the two books as they are.

4. You wrote books for young people before. What made you jump to adult fiction and was it easier or more difficult to write?

I’ve been writing for adults and for children for more than ten years, but I’ve only recently been able to get the adult stuff published. That’s partly because my skills have improved—Hangman and Just One Bite are both ambitious novels, and I just wasn’t a good enough writer to pull them off until recently. But it’s also because there are people who read my early work as teenagers who are now in their twenties, so there’s a market. Writing for adults is both easier and harder than writing for kids. It’s easier because you don’t have to tiptoe around certain topics—that’s half the reason I wanted to make the switch—but it’s harder because most adults aren’t as willing to suspend their disbelief. Just One Bite is a pretty far-fetched crime thriller, so I had to work really hard to make it feel real.

5. I saw this review on Amazon and it is how I felt. I couldn’t put the book down. Is this what you were looking for in your writing of this character and stories? “I devoured Just One Bite. Jack Heath is alarmingly skilled in all things dark and sinister. Luckily he is also bitingly, outrageously funny.” —Sarah Bailey, bestselling author of The Dark Lake

Early drafts of Hangman were too dark for some readers, but I felt that toning it down would make it dull. Instead, I injected doses of humour, and it was amazing how much that improved the manuscript. Blake gets into such horrifying situations that there are plenty of opportunities for jokes that haven’t been done before. Just One Bite was easier, because this time I knew from the get-go that I wanted it to be funny as well as scary. Readers sometimes tag me in photos of their favourite lines from the books, and it’s almost always something that made them laugh.

6. Without giving away spoilers do you think there’s a chance for Timothy and Reese in the future?

That’s a hard question to answer. In many ways they’re perfect for each other, but she’s an FBI agent and he’s criminally insane—that’s a big hurdle for a relationship to overcome. I don’t know if they’ll end up together, but I do hope she’ll eventually understand him. It would be nice for Blake to have someone who he didn’t have to lie to, someone who accepted him. (I do feel like Reese could do better, though!)

7. You live in Australia. Do you do all the stereo typical things we Americans think? Shrimp on the Barbie, drink Fosters Beer and eat Vegemite sandwiches? Are you a fan of Air Supply and Men at Work? Sorry had to ask! LOL

No worries! I don’t partake any of those things, except the occasional slice of vegemite toast. I do say “G’day mate!” and I’ve eaten kangaroo sausages in the past. I’m sure I do some other quintessentially Australian things, but I don’t know what they are. It’s hard to observe your own culture from the inside.

8. Will you be coming to the US for a book tour? Have you been here before?

I visited the USA to research Hangman in 2010, spending time in Texas, California and New York. I’m glad I did, since before the trip I had a pretty cartoonish view of Texas—Timothy would have ended up with a ten-gallon hat and spurs on his boots, saying “Howdy, y’all” to everyone he met. My favourite part of the trip was seeing a gruesome play on Broadway which starred Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Wow! I’d love to go back to the states, but I have two young kids, so travel isn’t easy.

9. I see your a magician. What is the best trick you do?

I used to be much more into magic than I am now, but I still remember a few tricks. Whenever anyone asks me to do one, I put my hand on the ground and twist it around 450 degrees. Most semi-pro magicians know the secret, but most lay-people don’t, and it’s more memorable—and shocking—than a card trick.

10. Has there been any Hollywood interest in Hangman and Just One Bite yet? I can totally see these as movies or a TV series on Netflix or Amazon.

My agent did sell an option on the rights to a Hangman series, but it expired—I think most networks thought the show would be too confronting or controversial. I’m hoping that they’ll reconsider now that the books are becoming more and more popular. A few other producers have expressed interest, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

11. What is next for you in terms of writing?

I have a new series for teenagers called LIARS which comes out in the USA this year, so I’m currently editing the fifth and final volume. I’m also writing pilots for three different TV series for three different companies (one of them is a Hangman pilot—I’m trying to make it easier for my agent to pitch the series.) And if the publisher likes my idea for a third Timothy Blake book, then I’ll have to start that pretty much straight away for a 2020 release. It’s going to be a busy couple of years!

12. Last question….I see your picture on your site and you look so young! Do you get carded a lot?

I’m 32 and the Australian drinking age is 18. (For the record, I think 21 would be better.) I haven’t been carded since my eldest son was born, four years ago. That could be because he’s visibly aged me, or it could be because I never go out drinking anymore!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.